BY: M. U. | BRIGHTON, COLORADO Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings
FOR ME, at first glance Step Seven seemed a cinch, especially in comparison to some of the preceding Steps. As is often the case, on closer examination the seemingly simple proved to be anything but! I thought this Step was only a kind of mopping-up maneuver or an interlude where I could rest on my laurels. (I was wearing them in the wrong place at the time.) Steps One through Six had shown me how inadequate my own powers and resources were–as far as my alcoholism was concerned. Besides, I had to he entirely ready to part with my defects (Step Six), and I wasn’t at all ready.
The earlier Steps, however, had removed some of the careful padding from my ego, and a remark made by an old-timer and dear friend had helped. I had heard one member complimented by another for a wonderful talk. The speaker said, “Don’t thank me or give me credit. Give God the credit.” I was determined that if ever anyone thanked me for my talk, I would say the same thing (humbly, of course).
Finally, my old-timer friend did compliment me on my talk one night, and I did say, “Don’t thank me. God did it.”
The old-timer smiled, put his arm about me, and said, “Honey, it wasn’t that good!” Up until that time I had thought “humble” was some kind of pie.
I knew from the beginning that my vices were ‘way ahead of my virtues. That was bad. Worse, some of my vices were being classed as virtues. But, since other members seemed to be gaining on their vices, I could hope for myself. By this time, introspection had become somewhat habitual, and I realized that I would have many hang-ups in working these Steps, as I’d had hangovers during the wet years (or should I say the monsoons?).
In Step Seven, the word “humbly” threw a monkey wrench into my sensitive emotional gears. Oh, what it did to my poor id! It seemed I was forever searching feverishly through all the dictionaries I could lay hands on for a definition of “humble” that I could accept. Even the excellent coverage of this aspect in the “Twelve and Twelve” availed me nothing. Humble? Humbug! Hadn’t I always been the one put upon? The doormat type? Was I now to wear sackcloth and ashes or a hair shirt?
All my life, I’d been taught that I alone was responsible for my character, including my shortcomings–responsible for self-discipline and self-reliance also. That reminds me of the fellow who claimed that he was a self-made man, whereupon his friend remarked that this belief certainly relieved God of an embarrassing responsibility!
Still, I could plainly see the golden thread of true humility running through all the Steps, and I knew how very important humility was to my continued sobriety. I became reconciled to the definition I found in a new, revised dictionary: “Humble indicates a personal realization of smallness, without loss of respect, and differs from humiliation, which implies public shame in front of others or being made to seem foolish or inferior” and “to be neither inordinately proud of our talents and assets, nor ashamed of our defects or failures, nor unduly on the defensive over them.” Also: “free from vanity.”
In other words (I quote Tryon Edwards): “True humility is not an abject, despising spirit; it is but a right estimate of ourselves as God sees us.”
My willingness to have my defects of character removed was bolstered by the realization that little, if any, spiritual growth was possible as long as I held on to my old ideas and defects. The words in our Big Book keep appearing before me: “Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well, regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house.” This is what Step Seven is to me; it means I am going to clean house and I will have all the help I need. By taking this Step, I am not giving up anything; I am getting rid of whatever might lead me to drink again and whatever might prevent achieving real serenity. Now, with God’s help and my own cooperation, via Step Seven, I can become on the individual level a first-rate power, instead of the second-rate power that I was before AA. (I was truly suffering from an immense power failure–or bad wiring.)
I have a favorite reminder which helps me keep Step Seven in view: “At moments she discovered she was grotesquely wrong, and then she treated herself to a week of passionate humility.” This quote from the works of Henry James has become part of my inventory.
I believe that through the first six Steps I have gained some knowledge of my character defects and that I know (at least in part and at times) what I need to get rid of! It is certainly no problem for me to humbly ask my Higher Power to remove them, either. I never did know what to do with them before. Besides, my pride is the only thing I can swallow any more that is nonfattening. In fact, this diet tends to reduce the ego and eliminate fatheads–mine, anyhow.
Step Seven simple? Not on your ego!
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